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Justin Ponmany

Indian Contemporary Artist
Born 1974, Kerala, India
Lives and works in Mumbai

Justin Ponmany is a contemporary artist whose works range from a set of large scale individual portraits to graph paper drawings to diptych paintings largely inspired by the dynamism of Bombay. He is known for his series on expanded portraits and for using holographic pigment in his works.



Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting), Sir J. J School of Art, Mumbai

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Mumbai's city life has had a strong hold on Panmony's work

Often, artists are influenced by surroundings. Born in Kerala, Ponmany's works often reference the urban expansion of Mumbai (a city he worked in and was fascinated by) and the impact it has on human life. Metropolitan society plagued with surveillance, migration, and issues of identity find representation in his works.

The artist often uses industrial material on canvas that brings out the mettlesome character the city is often credited with. Ponmany elucidates the elasticity as opposed to the plasticity of the city through his works Ponmany has been inspired by the way internet mapping devices break down personal and geographical borders but these works suggest that the more we try to know or map something, the more elusive their form can become.

Justin Ponmany, Query, 2009, acrylic and hologram on canvas, 75 x 128"

He is known for his series on expanded portraits.

Ponmany creates multi dimensional portraits converging the macro with the micro. For the artist, the person and his world are captured within the same frame. “The idea is to explore how to co-wire a human being’s individuality and the world around him within the same frame,” says the artist. The mechanism and plasticity of urban living is projected on its people using sophisticated technique of distortion. As a result, the portraits acquire a three dimensionality which is specific to cartography, thereby attributing a free floating identity that is interchangeable and anonymous. His portrait reminds one of fingerprinting retinal scans, police mug shots, and a host of techniques used to carry out surveillance.

Justin Ponmany, 1-b Indraneel bldg, rdp 1/38, sector 2, Charkop, 2007, c-print, 55 1/4 x 109"

Justin Ponmany, Kolkani Baugh, room no 2, 2007, Salma Manzil, Doodj Naka

Ponmany's works cover a huge oeuvre in terms of mediums.

Ponmany ‘s work ranges from a set of large scale individual portraits to graph paper drawings to diptych paintings. His practice exhibits a wide scale, with delicate drawings on laboratory graph paper where intersecting lines creates a range of patterns while large diptychs represent grids derived from these line drawings superimposed on the image of an open book.

He uses the phosphorescent pigment found in hologram stickers to create evanescent paintings that shift depending on the viewer’s position. He also uses plastic paints, industrial materials, and rich pigments. Many of his works have a photo-negative- like quality to them.

Justin Ponmany, Admit One (diptych), 2007, acrylic and holographic paint on canvas, 74.8 x 104"

Justin Ponmany, Untitled (set of 4), 2007, ink on graph paper, 11 x 18" (each)

He widely uses holographic pigment on canvas.

Although the artist experiments with various materials, his signature is a holographic pigment which he uses on canvas along with graphic production techniques. Thus, through such negotiations the spectator becomes a participant in the physical dialogue with the artwork. The pieces are reminiscent of scanners and cartography, but their morphing nature shows signs of abstract art.

Peter Nagy writes “Favoring low levels of illumination for his works, Ponmany presents paintings whose appearances oscillate with the viewer’s vantage point, the images they harbor sliding in and out of view, at one moment hot and the next moment cool, a para-chromaticism similar to that found on the skins of certain electrolytic aquatic species” (Peter Nagy, “Kaleidoscopic Synthesis”, Who's Keeping Score' at Bose Pacia, New York in 2007, p. 4).

Justin Ponmany, God Forbid (triptych), 2007, acrylic and holographic pigment on canvas, 75 x 52"

Justin Ponmany has a subjective approach to reality.

Reality is not so straightforward in Ponmany’s world. Rebranding by digitising, Ponmany duplicates figures in electric landscapes that are stylised beyond comprehension were it not for the reoccurring markers and motifs of figures and skyscrapers that appear in his works. Using plastic paints, silver holograms, rich pigments of colour and distorted photographic-negatives, Ponmany is as interested in the production of his works as he is in the object that exists thereafter. This process is one of reworking reality, using means which bring out the materiality of work through the choice of objects used to create them.

Staple Agony II, Plastic Memory is a work that shows a very solitary figure, in which the black and white over tones and the luminous orange help convey the mood and drama inherent in the subject. The glare and the shifting image caused by the hologram pigment play’s tricks with the spectator’s scrutiny.

Justin Ponmany, Staple Agony II, 2006, acrylic and holographic pigment on canvas, 191 x 325 cm